July 14 (UPI) — Former astronaut Julie Payette will be Canada’s next governor general, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office announced.
The position, as the official representative of Queen Elizabeth II to Canada, is largely ceremonial and low in power — but high in visibility.
Payette, 53, will replace David Johnston, who will retire in September after serving in the position since 2010.
A Montreal native, Payette was the first Canadian aboard the International Space Station in 1999. She received the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor, a year later. A holder of degrees in engineering and in applied sciences, she has sung with international orchestras, plays the piano and speaks six languages.
Her nomination, by the Liberal Party prime minister, was praised by former Conservative cabinet minister James Moore, who called Payette “a great choice to serve as Canada’s next governor general.”
The appointment is by the ruling monarch of the United Kingdom, who remains Canada’s head of state despite Canada’s independence. Trudeau visited Queen Elizabeth earlier this month, while traveling to the G20 summit in Germany.